The Future of WordPress in India

A few days ago I watched through Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word address at WordCamp US. In it he mentioned about the WordPress growth council. The idea is interesting and got me thinking about the growth of WordPress or open-source CMS in India.

While the increasing number of meetups and WordCamps are great, the average person from lower income groups has no idea of WordPress.

It is not to say, they have no idea about the internet. They do, but they are extensively using apps, services by Google or Whatsapp (owned by Facebook). Most technology that is helping them work, give them an online identity or a gateway to the internet are walled gardens. The open web is increasingly becoming something people do not know about and as a result care about.

This lack of awareness is acute in India’s poor and lower income groups.

I was starting to write down a rant on Twitter with the following tweets.

I did have a lot more to write about but remembered that I own a blog and came across some nice advice by Mike Little (co-founder of WordPress).

Since I live in India and I am active in the local WordPress communities as a volunteer, I have some views on our community in India. Note this is not a critique of the community, it is not a critique of WordPress either. I am not qualified to do that. I am writing this as way to write down what I comprehend about the future of WordPress in India for myself.

Some tough questions?

  1. Why will the local cab driver, rickshaw driver, small sandwich shop owner, self-employed carpenter, electrician ever use WordPress?
  2. How will WordPress serve people who are not looking to publish anything or blog about anything?
  3. How could several thousands of local newspapers and journals in local languages use WordPress to go online?
  4. Is the current WordPress community in India doing anything to be make WordPress relevant to lower income population of India that is discovering internet services?

Future of WordPress

WordPress is probably moving away from PHP focus to a JavaScript focus. It will be a slow and sure process. WordPress it seems is a bit ahead of the curve in moving ahead to become more of an app like software and than remain a CMS.

This is a big change and it is a change that is going to be more inclusive and hence ultimately good for its sustained future.

But the other big reason for the success of WordPress so far is the community around it.

I love WordPress!

Who are we? Are we growing in depth? Do we really even matter as a community in India when it comes to technology?

Much of the community that meets at WordCamps and meetups, reside in an echo chamber. They take part in meetups, organise WordCamps and feel happy about themselves. Why do I get involved in open-source, in WordCamps, in meetups – the common and most popular answer is “I love WordPress!”

Love is a strong word but we must wait and listen to our answer to why we love WordPress.

I love WordPress – because I make money from it?

I love WordPress – because it’s easy?

I love WordPress – because it opens avenues to me?

I love WordPress – because I love Freedom.

The problems start not with loving something but why you love something.

Love involves hard work, pain, effort, patience, respect and a level of altruism. Love is a powerful emotion and it should stand for an higher ideal or a higher purpose.

The higher ideals of freedom, choice and inclusion. While freedom and choice are protected because of its open-source nature and the GPL licence, inclusion is often neglected or less thought about.

Call for inclusion and dialogue

We all have meetups, workshops and WordCamps where we discuss various WordPress related topics. Can we take some time out and have one or two outreach programs in our local communities?

Where we speak to people from lower income groups or school students from lower income groups. Can we explain to them the benefits of open-web?

Where we can talk to them and their unions and associations to negotiate and carry out dialogues with tech giants from a place of awareness rather than darkness. Can we try to atleast talk about such things in our community?

The WordPress community as a result will become more inclusive, more broader and those are good signs for the future.

Let me know in your comments what we could do as a community about inclusion, about trying to promote the open-web ideals to lower income groups, to people who do not earn their living from the internet.

Our favourite software WordPress might not benefit directly but the open-web might end up winning!


5 responses to “The Future of WordPress in India”

  1. An example could be the Indiabulls group using WordPress for information sharing in villages. A friend of mine had tried this experience, cannot really follow-up on what happened since he has since departed this world in a freak asthma attack 🙁

    1. So sorry about your friend.
      The idea of using WordPress for information sharing in villages sounds interesting. What sort of information was it? Civic information, news, was it like a village bulletin board?

  2. Its good someone is asking the questions . I had similar questions a few years ago. But found the mumbai/india community more focused on developing plugins and themes (all good as it is the bread and butter for many .but running mumbai/ngo/india/travel communities for many years. I found it was very difficult for the grassroots to acquire the skill to use wordpress effectively to a)get their message out b)use the plugins and create a site for their businesses. now with facebook and twitter it did not make sense to create a big blog post to get help or spread the word. With instamojo and payumoney and paytm it no longer made sense to invest in a business hosting+site+ssl+apply to payu+get harasses by the banks in verification to set up their own eCommerce sites .
    I hoped that community would have a cell to brainstorm these issues. But it became obvious that most people were promoting their own plugins and businesses (all good from their pov).I slowley stopped getting involved in communities ,
    possible solutions
    wordpress to be relevant to the masses. Need to be able to create a live secure ecommerce site by entering a few fields on a smart phone .but everyone needs to make money so i dont know if wordpress will be able to implement this .

    I follow your blog as i found you were the few guys who was enthu about getting wordpress to the larger audience ie school etc.

    Hoping for the best with new ideas via brainstorming .

    1. Yes we have spoken about this a bit sometime ago. I must admit, I have struggled to find ways to defend the open web but lately I have some ideas that I am keen on following up on. It is something I am surely looking forward to talk with you in the future.

      Important, when I say I want people from lower income groups involved in a dialogue about understanding and learning about the open-web – I hope I am not coming across some reformist / preacher who is trying to save people. No, I want to learn and I think that is way forward for any community to democratize fruitfully.

  3. Taking a few sessions in any school would help. The sessions could be focused on CMSs in general with WordPress being part of it. Getting them to use WordPress as a tool for their learning would be a great way forward.
    This actually doesn’t start at WordPress. It starts much before that, with the basics. WordPress probably would come a few spots after our fellow country-men are aware of the basics.
    I am planning one such session next month with all kids within our family & extended family. It’s not specifically focussed on WordPress, but giving them an idea about basics of Internet & then taking it forward from there.
    We do need to give them reasons to use WordPress & Technology in general. Using technology in their respective fields would be the first step. Learning tools for students, some ecommerce stuff or customer engagement for small business owners (something which JustDial tried to do).

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